HR software firm makes European shortlist

 

A CORK company that develops online human resources software has been shortlisted as one of the top 18 European start-ups in Microsoft’s Bizspark programme.

HR Locker’s software is aimed at small and medium-sized companies that need to store employee records, allow staff to apply for annual leave or record time and attendance. Many businesses are legally required to keep these records but many use basic spreadsheets to do so, said HR Locker’s managing director John Dennehy.

“We’re making that process paperless,” he said. “It reduces the cost for companies to administer and it reduces the amount of printing so it’s more environmentally friendly.”

The software also allows a company to publish an employee handbook online and have workers sign it electronically. “There is no reason for companies to print a 40-page handbook in duplicate and get employees to sign them,” said Mr Dennehy. Digital signatures have been legally valid in Ireland since the passing of the Electronic Commerce Act in 2000.

As part of the shortlisting process, HR Locker gave a presentation at Microsoft’s Bizspark European Conference in Paris last week to senior Microsoft executives, other technology entrepreneurs and venture capital (VC)firms. “You don’t walk away with a bag of cash. It’s not Dragon’s Den, but for starting a relationship with European VCs, an event like that is the place to do it,” said Mr Dennehy.

Late last year HR Locker raised €300,000 from Enterprise Ireland and other investors including Mr Dennehy. The five-man company spent most of 2009 focusing on developing its software. It already has customers in Ireland, Britain, China and Japan. “Because we’re bootstrapping we can do an awful lot with very little,” said Mr Dennehy.

He said the company would look at raising further funding later this year but in the meantime it is concentrating on growing the business.

HR Locker hopes to become profitable by the end of next year, said Mr Dennehy. “It’s only in years two and three that you start making money but the great thing about software as a service is that the churn rate is very low and your income is very predictable.” The company has also reached a verbal agreement with a partner to resell its software in China.

Mr Dennehy was formerly chief executive of Zartis.com, a provider of e-business systems that was acquired by Breakaway Solutions for $18 million in 2000 but was closed by its new parent the following year.

In 2002, he co-founded Upstart Games, which developed and published mobile phone games.

“There are going to be a lot of really good technology companies created in this downturn and a lot of them will be done by guys who have the battle scars from the last time around,” he said.